Tag Archives: Billie Holiday

Floweruary 2012

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Lady Day and her gardenias

It’s that time of year again, time to don your best blooms for a celebration of cheer, color, and beauty during the winter month of February – with the blessing of Patron Saint Billie Holiday, 2012 will be another great year for Floweruary.

There’s an added challenge this year – from the Facebook invite:

“The challenge is back, everyone! Wear a flower in your hair every day of February. Feel free to post your pictures here so that we can all ooh and aah over how gorgeous you and your flowers are.

Post your photos here: http://floweruary.tumblr.com/

From Kerry & Philly:
Hey everybody, A few of us were planning on using this year’s Floweruary as a way to do some good.

The Commitment: Put away a dollar (or some amount of $, whatever you can spare) each day you participate in Floweruary. The Point: At the end of the month, we’ll give our Hair Flower Dollars to the Lindy Hopper’s Fund. It may not be a lot from each individual, but together we can certainly make an impact.

I’m not (yet) rolling in the dough, but I would love to do something to help the Lindy Hopper’s Fund. I hope you all think about joining in on this. Even if you’re a ten cent-er, go ahead and be proud with your ten cents!

Swingoutly, Kerry and the Philadelphians.”

There you have it! Looking forward to participating and seeing all the lovely hair accessories. 🙂

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Billie Holiday’s Gardenias

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

There’s been a flurry of Billie Holiday discussion online today, with DJs Rob Moreland (via Facebook) and Jerry Almonte (via blog) writing about danceable Billie Holiday tunes. Billie’s music is absolutely inspiring and so is her signature look. The images of Billie Holiday with clusters of gardenias in her hair are iconic – so much so, that flowers, or clusters of flowers, have become a quintessential vintage look for singers, dancers, and (as many Etsy listings tout) brides.

Billie’s flowered tresses came about by accident, according to biographer Bud Kliment (via the Human Flower Project). The story goes that “During Holiday’s tenure at Kelly’s Stable, Sylvia Sims, a fellow jazz singer, furnished Holiday with an accessory that was to become a lasting part of her image. One night before a performance, Holiday burned her hair with a curling iron. Sims, who was in the room with her, promptly went to a club down the street, where the coat check girls were selling flowers. Sims bought a big white gardenia and gave it to Holiday, who wore it that night to cover the burned section of her hair. She liked wearing the flower so much that she began to put a gardenia in her hair before every performance.”

Gardenias are beautiful, delicate white flowers with a lovely and potent scent. I was delighted to discover that the giant bush behind my house was a gardenia bush, after it blossomed with gusto this past spring. The smell was intoxicating and made my backyard a wonderful and fragrant place to be (in spite of my brown thumb and allergies to the outdoors). I plucked some of these flowers to wear at the G.I. Jive in Greenville, S.C. this past June, placing them carefully in a vase inside a cooler so they would survive the trip to South Carolina. At the dance that night, several people commented on the flowers’ fragrance and were surprised that I had transported real gardenias to wear in my hair. It was definitely worth the effort, as the gardenias achieved the desired Billie effect and fit wonderfully in the curl of a victory roll; however, by the end of the night, the June humidity and heat (as well as additional heat from dancers) caused the gardenias to wilt. I presume that all those photos of Billie with gardenias were taken shortly after she took the stage, or in winter…or that she perhaps wore a more hearty variety of gardenias.

(Side note: There is some debate in the Human Flower Project article about what it means to wear the flower on the right side above the ear or the left side above the ear. I notice that Billie wears hers on the left. I wear my flowers on the left so my lead doesn’t get a flower directly in the face when we are in closed position or dancing Balboa. I wonder if that was a consideration for her side selection…)

My gardenia bush lost its blooms several months ago, but there are a number of beautiful and practical artificial options to tide me over until next spring. Etsy has become my go-to place for hair flowers and the crafts-people on Etsy do not disappoint. Here are some options to help you achieve Lady Day’s signature look:

A lovely silk specimen from seller ellasalley

Gardenia with a pearl and rhinestone center

Bloom with a jeweled brooch in the center

Gardenia made from air dried clay

Another lovely specimen

Enough gardenias to do a proper Billie

Nelesc on Etsy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Here’s some more jazz icon screenprinting madness on Etsy, this time from seller nelesc, who offers not only Billie and Nina on raglans, but also any icon of your choice on an asymmetrical hoodie/track jacket. Any icon, you say? How about three, like all three Boswell sisters?

Who would be on your track jacket?

Insert your jazz icon here

Nina Simone long sleeve tee